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One for the Boys
‘Unquestionably those pioneer men suffered in popularity for their feminist views’. Emmeline Pankhurst 1914
I think before we go much further with this project, I would like to bring the boys into the conversation. Empowering and enabling women is not about ignoring or diminishing men’s contribution. Moving towards a more equitable society requires us not to battle against each other, but to work together. We all need role models, and they should be male and female in equal measure. How can we expect to stamp out misogyny if we aren’t teaching our boys to respect and admire their female peers, and how will our girls ever be sure of their true value and standing in the world if they feel society is divided into ‘us and them’.
We need to all be feminists! This might not be as ridiculous as it first sounds.
Take the suffragette movement for example. While the portrayal of women fighting against a patriarchal system is accurate, the contribution of many men during this time must also be acknowledged.
Emmeline Pankhurst, well known for her part in changing the course of history, was married to Richard, a lawyer, who was equally dedicated to the cause of women’s rights. Together they raised five children, three of them girls, all who went on to be suffragettes. (It must have taken real guts and belief for a man to be a feminist in the 1800’s!)
Equality needs to be about teamwork, and all great teams are made up of individuals with a range of talents and skills for which they should each be valued and celebrated.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work this way.
Societies definition of success (at least in the West) is often linked to monetary gain and status in the workplace, whereas lower value is placed on raising a family, and the caring professions. All too often the conversation around equality revolves around the pay gap and numbers of women in leadership positions, and I think this largely misses the point. It perpetuates the myth that to be equal, women need to be more like men. A woman who finds success in the boardroom is stereotyped as a ‘ball breaker’, assertive and aggressive. In other words, she’s a man in heels. God forbid she has climbed the corporate ladder by way of empathy, communication and collaboration!
There tends to be a presumption that only women stand to gain from a more equal society, but in reality, we all benefit.
We need to learn from each other, to value our strengths and celebrate our differences. Only then will the conversation shift from the ‘fairer sex’ to a fairer society.